Kirsten Bates is one of our Police Community Support Officers (PCSO), working within the Daventry Neighbourhood Policing Team to engage with the local community and help fight crime. She explains why she finds her job so rewarding.
Having grown up in Northamptonshire, I wanted to give something back to the community where I live. I first did this by becoming a Special Constable for three years before becoming a PCSO in 2007, a role which really suits me as I love working with people and wanted a career where I could make a difference to people’s lives.
The main job of a PCSO is helping to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour, and most days see me supporting our neighbourhood policing work by carrying out targeted patrols, making sure I’m accessible to the community and liaising closely with stakeholders to solve or allay concerns people may have.
Every day brings a new challenge, and I spend my days working to make people feel safer in their communities by building the bridge between crime and their fear of crime. Day to day I’m involved in a range of problem-solving work, including visiting schools and community groups and making sure I’m accessible to anyone who needs my help.
My role also allows me to develop close working relationships with key groups or agencies like local authorities, housing associations and schools, building relationships which play a key part in helping me identify and tackle issues like anti-social behaviour and low-level offending, as well as providing information that can lead to the arrest and conviction of offenders.
Preventing and resolving anti-social behaviour is a big part of the job for PCSOs – it can have a devastating effect on people’s lives, and as well as helping victims I work with those responsible to address and resolve their behaviour, as well as sometimes being required to give evidence in court, which can be daunting! Working with both parties has many challenges and there’s rarely an easy fix, but knowing you’ve done all you can to resolve a problem really is so satisfying.
Similarly, dealing with neighbour issues is extremely challenging as it’s very personal to those involved, so I’ve had to hone my problem-solving skills down to a fine art.
Giving a voice to the vulnerable
For me, the best part of being a PCSO is the variety it brings every day. I get to engage with all of these people from all walks of life, both victims and offenders, which then gives me the opportunity to help people change their lives.
My proudest moment as a PCSO is developing the Blue Butterfly project with a colleague. The idea behind it was to find a way to help children and vulnerable people express their concerns and fears to a trusted adult, encouraging them to recognise that feeling butterflies in your stomach is a sign that something’s wrong. It was initially something we just ran in the Daventry area but it’s since gone on to be used Force-wide, having great success in helping with everything from a child falling out with their friends, to supporting children and adults who have suffered serious abuse.
My name's Kirsten Bates, I'm a Police Community Support Officer with Northamptonshire Police. I've been in the role for just over 12 years now and it's a role that I'm absolutely passionate about.
The PCSO role brings communities together. We cover all aspects. Crime prevention, as I say we work with victims. I am in and out of schools on a daily basis whether that be primary, secondary, colleges, nurseries, there's an input that is given into each of those age groups. Whether that be road safety, online safety we cover the prevent strategy, we do around cuckooing, county lines, drugs, knife crime. Every area, or aspect of, stay safe in that community is something that I engage in our local schools and we ensure that the young people are being given those stay safe messages.
We do a lot of work collecting for Women's Refuge and people that have become victims of crime. Today's surgery was around how we engage and help people that, are not necessarily victims of crime, but may need a little bit of help. The role sees us engaging with victims of all types of crime and allows us to reassure the public that we are there when you might not see police officers out and about. We are working with perpetrators and offenders too, building that trust with people that were offending, understanding why they're behaving and offending in a way that they are, it allows us to build an intelligence picture around how they are active in our communities. Then, again, we're able to find help for these individuals as well.
Transport-wise, I have my bike but I have my feet as well. Foot patrol is always my chosen means of transport because it means that I'm out there and I can talk and engage with the community. PCSO's, we're not police officers, and I think the role is, it's very different but, you know what, we're that link, we're that bridge into the police force.
I don't have that power of arrest, I don't carry handcuffs, I don't carry a baton, and I don't carry PAVA, and for me, I'm happy. Again, as a PCSO, good communication skills is what keeps me safe. It's around, again, building that rapport if I talk to people with respect, again, I've found, over the years, that the respect is shown back. I feel no need to carry handcuffs, I've got no need to carry PAVA or a baton, and I feel safe whilst out on patrols. As a PCSO, as I say, on area, in Daventry for seven years, in the role now for 12 years, you get to know your community. I've seen young people that have been out committing crime in their, sort of, early teens, late teens, that they've gone on to do really, really well and get some really good jobs out there. So, yeah, it's a role that I will remain in and hopefully it's a role that would be around now for a long, long time.